Looking for stimulating reads to recommend to your (now virtual) book club or to keep your brain limber? Try these Conversation Starters.
Every week, Amazon Charts not only lists the most sold and most read books in fiction and nonfiction, it calls out which books are Conversation Starters. These are the books on the Charts list that clocked the shortest time between when readers finish the book and leave a review.
If you’re looking for stimulating reads to recommend to your (now virtual) book club or to keep your brain limber, these eight Conversation Starters are sure to do the trick.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
The book’s subtitle, “A Brief History of Humankind,” might provoke dread for some readers as they harken back to tedious biology or anthropology classes, but never fear: Yuval Noah Harari’s dry wit and pointed questions will instead leave readers delighted and full of new knowledge. From the question of why Homo sapiens are the only remaining human species to what our future might be, Sapiens persuades readers to reexamine their assumptions around our species’ history and destiny. Once you leave your own review — as more than 15,000 readers have — go ahead and wow your family and friends with what you’ve learned.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Amazon senior editor Chris Schluep presciently wrote at the beginning of January 2020, when the Amazon Books editors chose American Dirt as one of the best books of the month, “When it does go on sale it will likely be one of the most talked about (and widely read) books of the year.” American Dirt jumped onto the Most Read Fiction list during the first week of February and has earned a weekly spot on that list ever since. And its Conversation Starter badge makes clear that this novel has prompted readers to weigh in with their own opinions, and quickly. A page-turning novel about a bookseller in Acapulco who runs afoul of a drug cartel and flees north, to supposed refuge in the United States, American Dirt sparked not just commentary about the book’s story but soul-searching within the publishing community about how it chooses which writers to promote.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The nonfiction recounting of a lawyer who takes the case of a man sentenced to death for a crime he claims he didn’t commit, Just Mercy shines a powerful light into the dark and dirty corners of a broken justice system. I can’t describe it better than Desmond Tutu, who said about this book, “Just Mercy should be read by people of conscience in every civilized country in the world to discover what happens when revenge and retribution replace justice and mercy.” Just Mercy grabbed a Conversation Starter badge in mid-January, when the film version of the book, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, came to theaters. The book has an astonishing average of 4.8 stars on more than 5,000 reviews, demonstrating that not only do readers want to talk about Just Mercy when they’ve finished reading it, they want to talk about how much they like it.
When I Was You by Minka Kent
One of the more recently published books in this list is Minka Kent’s thriller about a woman whose identity is stolen. In When I Was You, Brienne accidentally discovers that someone seems to be impersonating her. Suffering from the effects of a traumatic brain injury and with holes in her memory, Brienne begins to wonder which of them is the true impersonator. Readers flocked to leave reviews about the twisty plot, the plausibility of the crime, and whether they saw the ending coming. Pick it up and decide for yourself.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
A Los Angeles therapist, Lori Gottlieb seeks professional help for herself when a romantic relationship falls apart, and she falls apart along with it. As she finds herself doing everything her own patients do — Googling her therapist, feeling uncomfortable when she realizes they have acquaintances in common, and, of course, avoiding the real issues that drove her to seek help — Gottlieb realizes that the gulf between patient and therapist is slender indeed. Witty, wise, and illuminating, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone has sparked readers to talk to each other — via reviews — about how much they enjoyed the book.
The Dare by Lauren Landish
The words that pop up often in the reviews for Lauren Landish’s The Dare include “laugh out loud,” “smoking hot,” and “fun read.” When Elle’s friend dares Elle to do something outlandish at her place of work, Elle is all in. But little does Elle know that the dare will set her, her handsome boss Colton Wolfe, and Elle’s father on a collision course as Colton and Elle’s father vie for not just the same prestigious job but for Elle’s loyalty and love. Not only did The Dare nab a Conversation Starter badge while on the Most Read Fiction list, The Dare was deemed Unputdownable — a book that Kindle and Audible readers finished faster than similar books on the list.
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
Rachel Hollis first grabbed readers’ attention and trust with her vulnerable yet sassy part-memoir, part-self-help book, Girl, Wash Your Face. She followed up a year later with Girl, Stop Apologizing, an exhortation to recognize your dreams and to make a concrete plan for realizing them. The founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Hollis gleefully pulls back the curtain to show the mistakes she made, the help she has been given, and the successes she achieved. Reviewers have raced to leave praise for the book for serving practical tips alongside generous dollops of humor.
Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
FBI special agent Aloysius Pendergast is back in his 19th outing, this time in Florida, where dozens of green shoes — each containing a severed human foot — have washed ashore. Accompanied on the grisly case by his mysterious ward, Constance Greene, and partnered up again with Agent Coldmoon, Pendergast soon discovers that this case is more bizarre than even he could have imagined. Longtime readers of the series by Preston and Child have quickly weighed in on how they think Crooked River rates against the rest of Pendergast’s adventures, with many approving of Constance’s reappearance alongside one of the most famous investigators in contemporary thrillers.
This article was originally published in slightly different form on April 8, 2020, on Amazon Charts.